Zimbabwe’s Agriculture Minister Perence Shiri died at the age of 65, the country’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa announced on Wednesday.
“I am deeply saddened to inform the Nation of the death of the Minister of Agriculture, Air Chief Marshall (rtd) Perrence Shiri, a long time friend and colleague,” Emmerson Mnangagwa wrote on Twitter.
“Shiri was a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country,” Mnangagwa added.
While the president did not reveal the cause of death, local media reported that Shiri’s driver succumbed to COVID-19 a day earlier forcing the minister to go into isolation.
“The minister’s driver died from the virus and it is only normal that the minister goes into self-isolation,” George Charamba, a presidential and Cabinet spokesman, was quoted as saying.
In 1992, Shiri was appointed as the commander of the Air Force of Zimbabwe, a position he held until he was appointed minister of agriculture in November 2017.
Zimbabwe now has 2,817 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, the country recorded four new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 40.